Pan-Regional Strategies Require Local Nuance: A Latin American Example

October 30, 2018

In this interconnected world assumptions can make fools of us all. Our judgement can be unconsciously biased by the regions we are familiar with.  It can lead us to the common mistake of thinking something that works well in one place will work well in another. It is important for any modern marketer to recognize that the rule book can change from country to country, from province to province, and even from city to city.


Pan-regional marketing programs are key to creating an international brand, but understanding which messages are universal and which are region-specific can determine whether a campaign succeeds or fails. Often, this kind of knowledge is hard won by trial and error, but long-term success lies in measuring those results while creating a playbook along the way. Nowhere is that more important than in Latin America (LATAM) where understanding regionality for message and medium is key to a successful campaign.




Recently we were asked to evaluate a campaign featuring a prominent Brazilian celebrity. As a cost-effective measure, the client executed the campaign across multiple Latin American countries, retooling, where necessary, from Portuguese to Spanish with overdubs and alternative end cards. The hypothesis before airing was that the copy would outperform within the Brazilian market and have a standard response across other countries.


However, once tested, the campaign dramatically underperformed outside of Brazil. When consumers in other countries were polled they noted poor translation quality and limited recognition of the celebrity were key factors in the performance. Some consumers went as far to say the copy was “condescending and insulting”!


Ultimately, a more generic, easily translated campaign would have had a greater overall return in the region. Knowing this, the client now picks their celebrity endorsements more choicefully and has created a playbook for pan-regional advertising that is easily adjusted for other markets.




The other key factor when considering a Pan-LATAM strategy is the nuance of the media channels by country. Understanding costs and the local media buying environment are extremely important before going to market. Vast disparities in digital penetration, regional costs, and TV buying inventories can be tricky for even the most experienced marketer to navigate. It is fundamental that your campaign has the ability to translate to the media that works best for that country so that you can plan a campaign that leans into the most effective and efficient media.


A prime example of this can be seen when comparing across typical TV and digital ROIs in LATAM markets:


LATAM Average TV ROI by Country


In general, TV ROIs in Brazil tend to underperform due to higher costs from limited supply in the market. This higher cost means that campaigns need to work extra hard in Brazil to generate positive returns relative to its neighbors. TV is essential for audience reach for many brands in Brazil, but knowing the cost of that reach and how to supplement it is important.


LATAM Average Digital by Country


However, if you look beyond offline, you can see that there are opportunities to focus more on digital in Brazil. More normalized costs relative to other countries and high smartphone usage and adoption offer a healthy return in Brazil. This allows marketers to emphasize digital in certain areas and focus more on TV in others.


Using a strategy with a higher percentage of digital can help many brands in Brazil increase the return in their marketing investment.


How to Succeed with a Pan-LATAM Strategy


As with all things, we only manage what we measure. Developing a robust analytics program to measure nuances like the ones above and understanding any trade offs is key to get the most out of a pan-regional strategy. You need to build your pan-regional toolkit:

  • Know relevancy to your market – this best works by having people on the ground who best know the market
  • Know what vehicles work for your brand in those regions– some testing may be required
  • Understand what media can be scaled in which markets – the scale of digital and TV can vary considerably across countries


Rinse and Repeat


While we discussed Latin America in this post, these principles work for any pan-regional strategy. One of the most important points from above is having people working with you who understand the local markets and have experience in their differences. As a global analytics company, Analytic Partners has worked for leading companies across the world. Need help in your global efforts? Reach out to a global partner. Let Analytic Partners help you craft your pan-regional strategies. Focusing on APAC? Definitely check out the new Asia-Pacific Marketing Measurement Wave – where Analytic Partners has been chosen as the only Leader, which highlights the strength of having local expertise.

- Barry Croke is a Director at Analytic Partners where for the past decade he has helped client across industries and regions better understand their customers and how to improve business results.